BANGOR, Maine — The couch burst into flames, the flames ran up the wall and firefighters doused them. Then the investigators moved in.
Well, sort of: 10 Husson University forensic science students — fledgling fire marshals — picked through remains in the wooden, three-sided firefighter training area after a controlled burn on Friday at the Bangor firefighter training center on Odlin Road near Bangor International Airport.
The students were there to determine what started the fire and why, as well as get a touch of real-world experience and some exposure to professional investigators. It’s a teaching exercise done regularly by Husson’s School of Legal Studies, said Eric Gordon, Husson’s spokesman.
Student Erik Onessimo said he enjoyed his search for clues.
“You don’t really think of how smoke travels through a building and how that kind of portrays what happened, in the order it happened,” said Onessimo, a 22-year-old Massachusetts native. “It was really cool to see how you can deconstruct it [a fire scene] and build it back into what it used to be.”
Ed Archer, an investigator for the Maine State Fire Marshal’s Office, guided the students, who collected samples for analysis on Husson’s gas chromatograph mass spectrometer at the university’s forensic science laboratory facility.